Touring Hokkaido is more accessible with the opening of the Hokkaido Shinkansen. Here are five must-visit places around Shin-Hakodate Hokuto Station, the train's final stop.
1. Kijihiki Highland
The 683m tall Mt. Kijihiki creates a gentle ridgeline in the northern area of Hokuto. Kijihiki Highland is a vast meadow spread out at the halfway point.. This place is especially popular for the panorama view tower where amazing scenery of Komagatake, Onuma, Hakodate and even Shimokita Peninsula (if the weather is in good condition) can be seen. Relax and enjoy the 360 degree view of Hokkaido that expands before your eyes. However, please note that the opening hours are 8:30 am - 5:30 pm, therefore night viewing is not available. Another popular location is Kijihiki Highland Takumi no Mori, a very Hokkaido-like forest equipped with cabins for bird-watching in which you can have a theraputic walk. Kijihiki Highland is just a 20 minute drive from Shin-Hakodate Hokuto Station. For anyone who wants to see an amazing view of Hokkaido and enjoys nature, this is the place to go.
2. Onuma Quasi-National Park
Onuma Quasi-National Park is a delightful location just 10 min by express train or a 15 min drive from Shin-Hakodate Hokuto Station. Here you can see the famous scenery of southern Hokkaido, like the beautiful Mount Komagatake as well as the Onuma, Konuma, and Junsainuma ponds. There is a beautiful green forest and a lake where animals and wild birds, like the Hokkaido squirrel and kingfisher, can be seen alongside unique plants of Hokkaido. Going on a cruiser or a boat and cycling for a nature excursion can also be enjoyable options. Getting hungry after all the exploration? Why not try the well-known junsai? Junsai is a type of water lily where the young leaf and young bud, covered in a slimy film, are eaten. Junsainuma was named after this leaf as many of them are harvested in this location. Please enjoy the unique texture and taste. Climbing Mount Komagatake is possible, however climbing seasons, times and routes are currently restricted as the volcano is active. Therefore it is wise to check the available information before climbing.
3. Yunokawa Onsen
Along with Noboribetsu Onsen and Jouzankei Onsen, the third hot spring considered among the three major hot springs of Hokkaido is Yunokawa Onsen’ Its history goes back to 1653. Initially, Yunokawa Onsen was not very popular as the hot water provided was little and tepid. However, in 1885 a location was found where water, at more than 100 degrees, flowed at a rate of 140L per minute. Since they opened the business a year after the discovery, the number of customers has continued to increase, and the location was successfully developed as a tourist spot. Even now, the rate of water flowing out of the hot spring is over 7,000t per day through 22 sources. Enjoying a hot spring at a hotel or ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) is definitely nice, but there are other options which might be fun to try, like a footbath or a public bathhouse. Yunokawa Onsen's location facing the ocean is beautiful, and you can enjoy Hokkaido's specialty cuisine. It's very easy to include a trip to Yunokawa Onsen in your plans since it is easily reached from Hakodate.
4. Hakodate Motomachi Slope Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse Night View
The "million dollar view" of Hakodate's night scenery is nice to gaze at from Mt. Hakodate, but the illuminated Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse is also recommended. A brick building and a canal influenced by western culture glows with soft light and paints the night of the Hakodate port town. It is especially magical in Christmas season as the giant illuminated Christmas tree appears on the sea. Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse has lights on every day from sunset to 10:00 pm, so it would be good to check it out while taking a walk. This is a location that couples like to visit on dates.
5. Goryokaku Park
Goryokaku, built in 1864, was the first Western-style castle in Japan. Star-shaped castles are rare in Japan, but they were common in medieval Europe as they were believed to have no blind area for defenders. It is famous for being the location of The Battle of Hakodate, which was the last fight between the new government army that had defeated the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu's Edo (Tokyo) government and the remaining members of the former shogunate army led by Toshizo Hijikata. Although the formal name is The Special Historic Site of Goryokaku, it is known as Goryokaku Park and is popular with the people of Hakodate. You can see the entire star-staped park when you look down from the 90m tall Goryokaku Tower. Anyone who has time to spare should visit this tower. Goryokaku Park is highly recommended for people who have an interest in the history of Japan, especially in the history of the Meiji Restoration (1867). Opening hours: 5:00 am - 7:00 pm (April to October), 5:00 am - 6:00 pm (November to March) Admission: Free entrance
Hokkaido isn't just cuisine and skiing, so we hope you find your own style of vacation in Hokkaido.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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